"You're setting up this colonel to be kidnapped by foreigners," Lyons said to Lieutenant Lizco. "Why? You're both officers in the same army, fighting for the same country."
After leaving New York City on an Air Force jet, Able Team had stopped first in Washington, D.C., for equipment and cash from Stony Man. They continued to San Francisco to pick up Lieutenant Lizco. After refueling the jet, they flew south for El Salvador. Now the lieutenant briefed them — in the efficient and impersonal manner of a professional soldier — on the details of Colonel Quesada's security.
"Why?" The lieutenant considered the question.
Konzaki, the fourth North American at the jet's conference table, answered first. "Call it international cooperation. Quesada ordered the murders of United States citizens. And the lieutenant has the courage to bring that bastard to justice."
But Lyons's eyes never left the lieutenant. Without acknowledging Konzaki's answer, the ex-LAPD detective watched the Salvadoran. Gadgets picked up one of the aerial photos supplied by Stony Man and studied the concentric rings of security around the gardens and homes of the Quesada family. Blancanales glanced at his watch.
"ETA, four hours," Blancanales reminded his partners. "We should finish the briefing before we discuss the motivation of..."
"What do you know of my country?" the lieutenant asked Lyons.
"I know nothing," Lyons answered, remembering what the ten-year-old son of a guerrilla had told him in the New York City basement. Lyons waited for the lieutenant to continue.
The young soldier smiled. "A North American who admits his ignorance. Good. I will educate you very quickly.
"One. There is not one war in my country. There are many. The government against the guerrillas. The guerrillas against the people. The Communist guerrillas against the other guerrillas. The army against the politicians. The old generals of the army against the young officers and the progressive politicians. The young officers and progressives against the fascists in the government. The fascists and the Fourteen Families and the old generals against everyone who is not one of them.
"Two. I fight for the revolution. Not the revolution of Marx or Cuba or Russia or the United States — the revolution of October 1979, when the young officers of the army decided to take the future of Salvador away from the families and the generals. My brother and my father joined the revolution and fought for land reform and justice and opportunity for our people. My brother fought the Communists who wanted no reforms. My father fought the fascists who wanted no reforms. My father and brother died. Now I fight the enemies of the revolution, the Communists and the fascists who have stopped the reforms.
"Three. The animal Quesada is not a soldier. He bought his commission. He never served Salvador. Only the families. He never carried a rifle. He never fought as a soldier, man to man with the enemy. He sends out death squads to torture and murder Salvadorans who only want to live as men and women in a modern country instead of as slaves to the families. His squads killed my father and my aunt and my cousins. Perhaps one of his assassins killed my brother, I don't know. When North Americans interfered — the reporter and the lawyer — he killed them, too.
"Four. Quesada is not Salvadoran. He has estates in Miami and Spain. He invests his money in Europe. Salvador is where he grows coffee. He cares nothing for Salvador or the people.
"He is my enemy. He is more than an enemy. He and his family and the other families led Salvador into this chaos and slaughter. A campesino becomes a guerrilla after he sees his village massacred. A politician goes and fights in the mountains after the death squads take his children. But they are Salvadorans and after the war, when there is justice, they will help rebuild Salvador. But the families? They have run away to Spain where they live in villas and talk about the good days, before the Communists came from Cuba."
"That sounds great," Lyons commented. "So why don't you pull the trigger on him?"
Lieutenant Lizco shook his head. "Then he would be only another rich man murdered by the Communists. Your president would call him a martyr for democracy. But if he is tried in the United States, with all the cameras of the world on him, he will be shown as the fascist that he is. The Quesadas and all the other families will be exposed. The people of your country and the world will learn the truth about the war in my country and why we fight. That is why I want your help. Do you understand me? "
"The politics don't count," Gadgets said, looking up from the aerial photos. "We'll just snatch that Nazi punk and drag him back. Give him a starring role on the six-o'clock news."
Blancanales spoke carefully. "The politics of your country cannot be our concern. It would be wrong for me to even comment on what you have told me. However, I can say that we are fortunate to find someone who'll help us bring a murderer to justice."
"Justice and shame," Lieutenant Lizco corrected. "I could have killed him many times. But death is too quick for him. Trial in the United States is what must be done."
Konzaki cut off the unnecessary talk. "Please continue with your briefing, Lieutenant."
"Yes, yes… As you can see..." the lieutenant pointed to a twenty-by-thirty-inch aerial photo of the Quesada plantation in Morazan province "...infiltration of the fincais not possible. First there is the perimeter with the towers and dogs and infrared scopes. Then the militia that patrols the finca. Then the second perimeter that guards the residences of the Quesada families — electric fences, with modern alarm systems. I succeeded in befriending a militiaman. He bragged to me of killing some guerrillas who came in with only knives and pistols. He said the detector system caught them..."
"What kind of detectors?" Blancanales asked.
Gadgets answered. "Could be magnetic. The steel of the pistols and knives, or even their ammunition or belt buckles, would've done them. But then again, the sensors could be audio, seismic, or photoelectric. Maybe even radar. If those Nazis are millionaires, they can afford whatever they want."
"True," the lieutenant said, nodding. "For that reason, I do not suggest an infiltration. Both the fincaand the residence in the capital have too many guards, too many electronic devices. What I suggest is an ambush..."
"But you said he zips back and forth by plane," Gadgets interrupted.
"Yes. Except when the weather forces him to take the highway. Have you read of the strange weather? Usually the rains come gently. Every day, a little rain, then the sun comes. But this year, many storms. So when he can he flies, but often now he must take the highway. He travels in a group of three trucks. A truck in the lead, then two kilometers back, two trucks. If guerrillas attack the first truck, or if it hits a mine, the other ones escape."
"Why don't the locals hit this rich man?" Gadgets asked. "They see him cruising around in his convoy of battlewagons, they've got to know he's someone important."
"That is the risk of the highways," the lieutenant said. "But it is not uncommon to see two or three trucks together. People who must go to the villages travel in pickups like those. When the guerrillas strike, they risk counterattack by the army. Why should the guerrillas attack only a plantation manager or government clerk when they can attack a convoy of troops or gasoline or coffee trucks?"
"What do you think, Ironman?" Gadgets asked Lyons.
"Makes sense. So how long do we wait for a storm?"
"Only a few days. Look." The lieutenant pulled a satellite photo from under all the other photos and maps. The Comsat computer-enhanced photo showed the swirls of storms off the shores of Central America. "Soon, perhaps the day after tomorrow, another storm comes. If Quesada travels, he travels by road."
"And if he doesn't?" Lyons asked.
"We wait." The lieutenant pointed to the satellite photo. "There are many storms coming. Perhaps we wait a day, perhaps a week. I have waited many months to avenge my father. You can wait a week."
Gadgets nodded. "Got my vote. Pol, you willing to kill a few days?"
"We'll need standby transportation for the prisoner," Blancanales said, and looked at Konzaki.
"He's on his way to Honduras now," Konzaki said, referring to the Stony Man ace pilot, Jack Grimaldi. "You get Quesada to an airstrip and he's on his way back."
Blancanales nodded. "I'll go."
They looked to Lyons. His eyes expressionless, showing nothing, Lyons glanced at his partners. "Why not? Almost there already."
Gadgets laughed. "What enthusiasm! Not exactly gung-ho on this one, are you?"
"You know what happened last time." Lyons looked out the port to the clouds and green lands of Central America below the jet. "We broke Quesada's gang. We got his address and passed the information to the Feds. And the Feds waited a day and a night before getting a warrant. You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure what goes. That Nazi has friends we know nothing about and couldn't touch if we did. Chances are, we'll deliver him to the Justice Department and he'll be on the next flight back to El Salvador. 'So sorry, he escaped.'"
Lyons turned to his partners. "But we'll get him. We'll do our job. We will do whatever is necessary."